Thursday, February 27, 2014

World War II Finishing Germany, Hungary and Austria

I explained how we were going to study World War II  here.

We found a little more that I wanted to share with the kids about Germany so we slowed down a bit. I love that about homeschooling. We are not tied to someone else's schedule.

A Bit More Learning with Germany ~ The kids and I read two books about the Kinder Transport. This was a wonderfully executed plan to rescue Jewish children from Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia. Children were transported to Great Britain where they were placed in homes and later reunited with their families after the war . Unfortunately, since so many parents died in concentration camps, only one in three of the children were reunited with their parents. We then watched the movie, Kinder Transport Into the Arms of Strangers. This movie was not very popular with my students because it kept jumping back and forth from the past to present. The Kinder Transport saved 10,000 Jewish children.

We watched and read World War II with Live Footage.  This was a great book and the DVD was excellent. As books I have on hold at the library become available, we will touch on Germany some more.

Austria ~ Germany took over Austria in 1938. We watched The Sound of Music and then a documentary about the real Von Trapp family and their escape from Austria. The true events and the story have many differences, but who can give up a chance to watch the movie again? We also bought Linzer cookies from a little European bakery in our city, since we weren't up to making them ourselves. They were delicious!

Hungary ~ Hungary joined the Axis powers in 1940. We studied Hungary a little bit out of order because our DVD arrived early from Netflix. Our hero this week was Raol Wallenberg. We watched the made for TV movie, Wallenberg: A Hero's Story. Raol Wallenberg is credited with saving 100,000 Hungarian Jews.

Next week we'll study Poland and Russia. I did not get to any activities during the last 2 weeks of history, but we do have some activities coming up with Poland and Russia.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up 25 ~ Frank Lloyd Wright, Presidents Day, and Perserverence

In My Life ~ There are moments when I am so worn out by raising my special needs brood. There are so many challenges, needs and demands. There is so much that cannot be accomplished without a huge amount of money. There is such a need for rest, respite, privacy and relief from the daily grind. But services continue to be cut in our state. They were considered to be poor when we moved here 13 years ago and have only gone downhill each year since. There is so little help for individuals with mental health issues in our nation -- and even less for children with mental health issues. So the result is that families are worn to their very cores trying to cope on their own. I was so excited a few weeks ago...finally, after years without any, we had a new therapist and psychiatrist. HOPE...Maybe this time we will get the help we so badly need. They listen and commiserate. But, alas, while they offer the support of encouragement, complimenting me on working so hard, their hands are tied. They have nothing of real substance to offer (no respite care, no one-on-one workers to take a child into the community, no amazing medications, no special programs, no easily accessible funding, no safe school). So all I can do is pray and list a few of my blessings. For I am not alone.
  • I am so thankful for my mother who listens to me for hours.
  • I am thankful for a few friends who understand what I am going through, either because they have taken the time to embrace our family or else walk in their own trenches with special needs kids.
  • I am thankful for our physical health.
  • I am thankful that three of our children are progressing day by day.
  • I am thankful for energy.
  • I am thankful that being a mother, wife and teacher have always been my goals since I was a young child (so at least I am doing what I intended to do, although with much more difficult children than I could have imagined).
  • I am thankful that my husband looks forward to coming home and being with his loud and sometimes chaotic family.
  • I am thankful for life's little bits of respite (a balmy and windy evening, a roaring fireplace, a sunset, bubble baths, music, a fun cookbook, interesting Sunday school class, and the PBS channel).
  • I am thankful for Tim's day program that provides him with a break from the sister who makes him a nervous wreck with her wild and unpredictable nature.
Presidents Day ~ Traditionally, my kids have enjoyed elaborate Presidents Day scavenger hunts each year. I just wasn't up to it this year. However, over the years I have discovered that I can adapt the traditions to meet our needs, and the children will still be content. So this year I hid only nine figurines of presidents (these were related to the period in American history that we've been studying). Each figurine had an item hidden with it as a "hint". Before breakfast, I told the kids to go find the presidents and bring them back to the table. They were told to then match the president to his favorite food, using the hint. And then we had this unusual feast for breakfast, made up of the favorite foods of presidents. The children were delighted.

  • Biscuits ~ Woodrow Wilson ~ hint was a bag of flour
  • Strawberries ~ Gerald Ford ~ hint was a picture of a strawberry plant
  • Apples ~ George Washington ~ hint was a peeler
  • Popcorn ~ Andrew Johnson ~ hint was salt
  • Coffee ~ Theodore Roosevelt ~ hint was coffee beans
  • Pickles ~ Calvin Coolidge ~ hint was vinegar
  • Ice Cream ~ Thomas Jefferson ~ hint was an ice cream scoop
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels ~ Herbert Hoover (who loved homemade candy) ~hint was a candy thermometer
  • Hard Boiled Eggs ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt ~ hint was a picture of a chicken
Frank Lloyd Wright ~ This week, my mother conducted an awesome art lesson about Frank Lloyd Wright, the world famous architect and designer. Our friends (the twins) will be joining us for art lessons for the next few weeks to double the fun. Using Google Images, everyone gathered around the computer while Grandma showed us photos of what typical houses looked like in the United States before Frank Lloyd Wright started to design his homes, which helped us understand why his houses were sometimes met with controversy. She showed us photos of the furniture, dishes and fabrics he designed for his homes. Did you know that you only needed to bring your clothes when you moved into one of his homes? The homes came equipped with everything else. We then moved on to the hands on part of the art lesson. We made stained glass windows. We used frames, contact paper, tissue paper and permanent markers.

First, we each made a blueprint of a window.

Using the blueprints as templates, we cut out the tissue paper. Next, we placed our blueprint under the non-sticky side of the contact paper and placed the cut outs on the adhesive side. With the tissue paper on the the adhesive side, we covered the sticky side with another piece of contact paper. Then we slid the blueprint away. Lastly, we drew "leading" lines with black permanent markers to complete our "stained glass" windows.

All the Rest ~ We learned lots of World War II history, which I will be posting separately over the weekend. Also, Little Red Riding Hood has gotten 100% on three spelling tests this week! Timothy
(our special needs adult son) went to the movies and the library with his day program. He loves going out into the community with this program. The kids had two play dates this week and made it to all of their therapy, dance and gymnastics classes.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Day in the Life ~ A Catch Up Day

An introduction ~ We are a homeschool family of six. Our four children all have some or many special needs. Our oldest son, 23 has an acquired brain injury which he received in infancy due to a heart attack and stroke. He has cardiac and pulmonary issues as well. Tim still lives at home and attends a day program 4 days a week. Our oldest daughter, Goldilocks 13, is adopted and has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) as well as mental health issues. She struggles with a low IQ. She must be watched every minute of the day or chaos ensues. Our second son, Tom Sawyer 11, is also adopted and also has FASD. In addition, he struggles with poor muscle tone and a weak core due to Cerebral Palsy. He is blessed to be intelligent and have fewer learning issues than his biological sister Goldilocks. Our last child, Little Red Riding Hood 10, is blessed to have only mild learning issues and some mild vision problems which make it more difficult for her to learn to read and write. In all other ways she is a normal girl.

I went back and forth on which day in the life to show this week. Recently, our weeks have been atypical, what with the snow here in the south and lots of canceled appointments. I decided to show this Saturday because it was a catch up day for our family with lots of make up appointments. Even though it was a Saturday, it was more like a typical day for us since we were not snowed in. In a typical week, we have only one day that has no appointments or commitments.
5:19 am - 6:00 am ~ I wake up to the howling wind. It sounds like it is going to bring down trees at any moment. I snuggle deeper into the covers and try to go back to sleep. It is no use. I decide that quiet Mommy time is as good as sleep and get up.

6:00 am - 7:15 am ~ I make tea and settle down to read some blogs and catch up on email. I am really bad about checking email daily which seems to be a requirement in modern society. I then go over our lessons plans and see what we missed in the past week. I am a person who loves lists, check marks and filled in squares in my lesson books. Each of our children has an individual lesson book and many of the squares were still blank for the past week. I decide to make the day a catch up day since we have a make up dance class and make up occupational therapy (OT) in addition to our regularly scheduled Special Olympics gymnastics class.

7:15 am - 8:15 am ~ Tom Sawyer wakes up and joins me in the kitchen/dining room. He is quiet in the morning and we both hug and sit down with our tea and enjoy a bit more silence. Then I explain to him the plan of making the day a catch up day and tell him he can earn some computer time if he does his typing program for 20 minutes. He is overjoyed and starts his typing program right away. He moves on to his computer game and I quickly turn on all of the appliances (washer, dryer and dishwasher). Tim also wakes up during this time and takes a shower.

Tim doing his morning chore.

8:15 am - 8:50 am ~ Goldilocks wakes up and our home becomes instantly rowdy and awake. Goldilocks is a ball of energy every waking moment. Within minutes Little Red Riding Hood and Daddy are awake and making their way to the kitchen for breakfast. Everyone does assigned morning chores and Goldilocks works on the U.S.A coloring wall map.

9:00 am ~ Dad takes Tim to his volunteer job at the nature center and I take Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood to a make up dance class (Goldilocks comes along for the ride). Tom Sawyer is invited to join the dance studio's Tween Company class for the rest of the year and join Tween Company as a full dance student next year. Two kids in Tween Company! I am proud of how hard they both work at dancing and theater. While we are at dance, Goldilocks works on her spelling book.

When class ends, we head for our next appointment at OT.

11:00 am - 12:00 pm ~ While Goldilocks and Tom Sawyer are having their make up occupational therapy, Little Red Riding Hood and I go out to pick up lunch with some great coupons we have.

12:00 pm -1:00 pm ~ We hurry home to change clothes and check in with Daddy before heading off for our last class, gymnastics.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm ~ Even though gymnastics is a special needs class, Little Red Riding Hood is allowed to participate. They all love this wonderful class. Tom Sawyer and Goldilocks are on the Special Olympics team this year and will compete at the state capital in June. Tom Sawyer has a difficult time having enough strength to make it through the class today. He is more than ready for a rest break once we are all done.

2:20 pm - 3:30 pm ~ Everyone has free time at home. Goldilocks needs some centering time (calm down time in her room). She is often very wound up and sassy/rude after being out in the community. I give her a new audio book from the library and put her in her room. Tom Sawyer finishes his computer time and works on his Lego project for the upcoming Lego Club meeting. Little Red Riding Hood makes rubber band bracelets and I take a quick power nap. DH is busy working on our computer system and Tim is resting in his room.

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm ~ DH and I divide up the chore list and the errand list. We then divide up the kids. He takes Goldilocks and I keep the rest. We rotate laundry, make dinner, clean the boys' bathroom, go to the grocery store and Target.

5:00 pm - 5:30 pm ~ We settle the four kids down to dinner and then DH and I take turns freshening up for our date.

5:30 pm - 8:30 pm ~ Grandma arrives to babysit. We head out to eat. Our first choice has a really long line so we move on to the Atlantic Bread Company. We luck out and get a table right in front of the roaring fireplace. After a calm and restful dinner/dessert, we head out to...Walmart...I know, not very romantic. However, we are there to get me a new phone! We pick the straight talk, no contract plan and are delighted that I now will have more minutes plus texting capabilities. Lastly, we finish our date at a used book store. We almost always end up in a book store at the end of our dates. DH finds a book he has been wanting to read and I pick up a few very detailed coloring books with stories for Goldilocks (World War II and Bible Stories).

8:45 pm ~ We arrive home to a very upset and overwrought son who had a bit too long of a day. Tom Sawyer is being inflexible and needs some negotiating/coercion to get into bed. By 9:30 pm everyone is tucked in bed and DH and I veg with our books.

Wow! I am exhausted just recapping the day!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Our Week in Pictures

What a week it was around here! We received snow on Monday and then again on Wednesday. We got a total of about 10 inches! Our week was filled with outdoor play. Even though we live in the mountains, snow is not a guaranteed occurrence here in the South.

The kids and Dad tried out sledding in the church parking lot near our home.

They moved on to sledding down the church stairs.

Sledding was fun on our street in front of our house (with parents at the top and bottom of the hill watching for non-existent cars).

There was also much shoveling done of our driveway and then on to the neighbors to earn summer camp money.

Then Goldilocks was having so much fun shoveling snow, she cleared the entire street in front of our home. The DOT man came by with his plow and thanked her for a job well done. Oh, if I could only bottle that girl's energy!!

Of course, we had to make a snowman and roll giant balls of snow into a snow fort, which led to an epic snowball fight! I am sure I lost...considering how much snow went down my neck!

There were hours indoors this week...calm, craft-filled hours. We decorated our storm door with hearts.

We enjoyed doing a fun pastel chalk Valentine tree tutorial from Hodgepodge.

Tom Sawyer made us a lovely dinner one night. He loves to cook and arrange the food on platters.

We enjoyed a box of Valentine candy...

And there were many hours of rubber band jewelry making.

We also enjoyed hours of watching the birds fight over the feeders, playing Wii fit and doing the 3R's. Our city came to a standstill for a few days, so dance and doctor appointments were cancelled this week.

We watched many movies this week.
  • The Bridge to Terabithia
  • Sounder
  • Wallenburg: A Hero's Story
  • The Sound of Music (started and will finish over the weekend)
  • Numerous Scooby Doo shows
Books we completed.
  • Sounder
  • The Life of Fred: Goldfish
  • DK Cookbook for Girls
  • World War II with live footage DVD
We are so grateful for the blessings this week ~ the power stayed on; Dad got to stay home for two snow days; everyone is safe and sound and snug in their beds; our oil is holding out well. I am even grateful for the endless puddles in my house, which is a sign of children having fun in the fresh air.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The First Two Weeks of World War II

For the remainder of the school year, we will be studying World War II. This is a very complicated and all encompassing subject. I decided to divide our study of World War II by country and by how the war progressed. There are some main goals I have while teaching World War II to the children. I want them to have a working knowledge of the war, be able to understand the vocabulary (Axis, Nazis, Allies, Holocaust, etc.) and to really get a feel of the times. However, my most important goal to impart to the children is the realization that there were good people in all of these countries who were trying to help the oppressed. Wars start with ruling bodies and the common people get swept up into war.
The first week of our study, we concentrated on an overview of World War II. I taught them that over 50 countries were involved in this war and there were two "theaters", the European and the Pacific. We started learning about the new, modern weapons of war and what a soldier's life was like. Part of this huge war included a terrible genocide which was called the Holocaust and 11 million men, women and
children were killed because they were not the "popular" people.

Our first project was the mortar game. We learned about the use of anti-aircraft guns versus mortars. The kids lay on a blanket and threw a tennis ball (mortar) at a balloon. The were not able to hit it. Then they stood up and threw the tennis ball (anti-aircraft bullets) at the balloon. Standing up, they had a much easier time hitting it.

Our second project was making a ration kit for our "soldier". We used only the non-perishable food we had on hand so this project was probably harder than it needed to be. We had the kids try to get as close as possible to the requisite 1800 calories, 50 grams of fat, 40 grams of protein and less than 2000 mg of sodium. We decided the project was hard enough without paying attention to the weight and size of the package. We went a little over on calories, but the kids were pretty pleased with the food for the day.

The third project we did this week was a camouflage activity in which the kids hid a bike from view. I think they did a great job. Can you see the pink bike in there?

We are trying to watch a movie each week of our study. The first week we watched The Story of Us and Crash Course History WWII. The kids far preferred The Story of Us, which explained the war at a slower speed and in more of a movie form. We also read several books which I will list at the bottom.

Week 2 found us in Germany. I decided to start in the European theater. We learned about the Rise of Hitler and why it was that such a man could gain power in Germany at that time. We reviewed that many Germans wanted nothing to do with all of the fear and hatred that Hitler encouraged. Our main audiobook this week was Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom. If you have not studied Bonhoeffer, he deserves a look. He was a German Lutheran minister who did a great deal of work to protect the Jewish community in Germany. After a long internal struggle, he decided to join an underground group that attempted to stop Hitler by any means possible (including assassination attempts). This audiobook did a wonderful job of explaining the mood in Germany that led up to the war and the struggle many had (including Bonhoeffer) between choosing loyalty to their country or devotion to Jesus' teachings. I won't spoil the end for those who do not know it, but the story is heart breaking.

The movie we watched for the second week was Paper Clips. This is a special movie about a middle school in Tennessee. About 10 years ago, they were teaching their students about the Holocaust and wanted to figure out a way to show what 11 million people looked like. They decided to collect paper clips, because wearing a paper clip during World War II was a way of showing solidarity to the Jewish community. The project spanned 4 years and brought them in contact with survivors and relatives of survivors from all around the world. They even ended up with an authentic box car  to store their paper clips. They now have a museum that we hope to visit one day. It is located about 5 hours from us.
Since we were studying Germany, we had to have some German food. We made chicken schnitzel, potato noodles, and German apple cake. The meal was delicious! The kids loved making noodles from scratch. They were stiffer than wheat noodles, but tasted great.

The first two weeks of books ~
  • World War II for Kids A History with 21 Activities
  • One More Border The True Story of One Family's Escape from War-Torn Europe
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be a Secret Agent During World War II!
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be a World War II Pilot!
  • Bonhoeffer The Cost of Freedom
Next week we are off to Austria (figuratively speaking). We did not get to learning about codes and code breaking this week. I hope to include that next week.

Blessings, Dawn